A Nation Cowering in Fear of Mass Shootings Is Not Free
Neither is a nation where a simple accident or illness can result in homelessness. Or a nation where a raped woman is forced to carry a pregnancy to term at the point of a gun...
Today is Memorial Day, the day we remember the 1.2 million Americans who have fought and died in our wars going all the way back to the American Revolution.
These people volunteered or were conscripted to fight and die for their nation and deserve our respect and memorialization.
But what about the 1.5 million Americans who have died from guns in America just since the Supreme Court, in 1978, gave the NRA the power to purchase American politicians and thus set the stage for today’s carnage?
Prior to the late 1970s, the NRA was a “sportsman’s organization” that supported rational gun control and mostly taught gun safety classes. I was a member way back then, as were millions of Americans who hunted or, as I did, shot at paper targets or skeet (clay disks a machine throws into the air) for sport.
The explosion of gun violence in America — and the transformation of the NRA — was birthed in 1978 when the NRA took the legal opening the Supreme Court handed them with the Bellotti decision that year and began to buy their very own politicians.
In that decision, written by Lewis Powell of “Powell Memo” fame, the Court asserted that corporations were “persons” and thus entitled to the First Amendment “right to free speech” in a way that could influence politicians and the political process.
They also concluded that, since corporations don’t have mouths, their “speech” could take the form of giving politicians money or pouring unlimited amounts of cash into PR and advertising campaigns around political issues.
That decision, as Justice White noted in his dissent, ended “the constitutionality of legislation passed by some 31 States restricting corporate political activity.” It also paved the way to the 1980 Reagan election on a veritable tsunami of corporate contributions.
When five Republicans on the 21st century Supreme Court massively expanded how dark money could control Americans politics with their 2010 Citizens United decision, corporate America and the NRA doubled down.
Whether it’s weapons of war on our streets, pharmaceuticals for which we pay 10 times more than citizens of other nations, the right to unionize, or simply going back to the nearly-free college we had in America before the Reagan Revolution — all things a majority of Americans favor — progress in America has been stifled by Republicans on the Supreme Court repeatedly ruling in favor of morbidly rich oligarchs and their corporations over average Americans.
But change is in the air.
Between Republican-supported mass murders of schoolchildren, the GOP attempt to overthrow our government, and their glee to criminalize abortion, there’s a very real possibility American voters are so repulsed that there will be a wave of Democrats taking office in state houses and Congress this fall.
If Democrats seize enough political power this year, they must make overturning Citizens United and its evil predecessors their first priority when Congress begins next January. Everything else flows from that corrupt cancer of legalized bribery that five Republicans on the Supreme Court embedded in the heart of American democracy.
The soldiers we remember on Memorial Day fought and died to protect freedom for Americans.
A nation cowering in fear of mass shootings is not free. Neither is a nation where a simple accident or illness can result in homelessness. Or a nation where a raped woman is forced to carry a pregnancy to term at the point of a gun.
Only when Big Gun, Big Pharma, Big Church, Big Insurance, Big Oil — and every other special interest group in America empowered by SCOTUS to corrupt our political system — are brought back to heel will America become the “land of the free” our iconic National Anthem proclaims and we remember the sacrifices of our soldiers for on this solemn day.
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